Redemption Foreshadowing in The Last Jedi

Interesting. The Battlefront II trailer released today places Kylo with the The Last Jedi heroes — not villains. Also, we have the first look at how bad — or, how slight — the scarring on his face is. If he had completely turned to the Dark side at the end of The Force Awakens and truly became “a monster,” the concept artists would have disfigured him into something hideous. His flesh would reflect the corruption and decay of his soul, much like Anakin’s and Palpatine’s did.

And that scar is located in the same spot where Han lovingly last touched his son. The murder of Han will scar Ben Solo for life, but Kylo, it seems, will still have a choice in The Last Jedi. And who better to help Luke bring the Jedi to an end than his former padawan who understands the Darkness now. What the galaxy needs is a new kind of Force-user — someone like Revan of the Old Republic who was neither Jedi nor Sith, who understood the Force in its entirety.

As Luke says of the Light, Darkness, and the Balance in the trailer for The Last Jedi, “It’s so much bigger.”

November 19, 2017 update: Unless J.J. Abrams unravels in Episode IX what Rian Johnson intends for Kylo’s character in Episode VIII, we pretty much have confirmation of a redemption arc in progress. Entertainment Weekly reported this quote from Johnson today: “There’s a big part of the story yet to be written and not by me,” says Johnson, who will hand the trilogy back to The Force Awakens filmmaker J.J. Abrams for 2019’s Episode IX. “But I don’t think it’s very interesting if the whole story is just ‘Will Kylo get his comeuppance?’ He’s a more complicated character than that and I think he deserves a more complicated story than that. I don’t see the point of trying to get behind his mask and learn more about him if all we’re going to learn is ‘Yeah, he’s just an evil bad guy that needs to be killed.’”

Ok, J.J. The ball’s back in your court. You must finish what you started.

 

 

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Snoke Screen

On board the Finalizer, General Armitage Hux half-carried, half-dragged the limp form of Kylo Ren into the darkened chamber and dumped him before the dais. The holo of Supreme Leader Snoke flickered briefly and then grew brighter as the master eyed his apprentice with disgust.

Snoke made a dismissive gesture to Hux. “Leave us.”

Ren was alive, but exhausted and badly wounded from the battle on Starkiller Base. Hux had thrown a robe over him, but the dark lord was still dripping from the bacta tank. He’d been asleep and drifting through dreams that both uplifted and devastated him. The drugs in his system dulled the pain but splintered his mind. Hux — or at least he thought it was Hux from the polished black boots that forcibly nudged him and then smartly retreated — had left him in a pile on his knees. Ren ran his palms over the cold onyx floor in an attempt to focus.

“Where is the girl?” Snoke drawled from the projector high above.

Ren knew he had to answer his master, but he just couldn’t think. What girl? The girl that haunted his dreams was tiny — four or five at the most — with arms like a babydoll. “Jakku,” he blurted, too disoriented to lift his head. “We left her on Jakku.”

A deep resonating silence followed. After a moment, Snoke spoke again in a voice low and dangerous. “Kylo Ren, you have failed me for the last time.”

Ren took in a deep breath and curled his fingers into a fist. His shoulders slumped as he waited for the blow that would end his life — wherever it would come from. He no longer cared.

Nothing happened.

“I have one final task for you,” Snoke told him in a matter-of-fact tone.

Ren slowly lifted his head to stare up at the grotesque image. He blinked several times, not sure what he was seeing.

The face was ravaged but not distorted by violent trauma and decay. It was still beautiful somehow. The eyes, however, had lost their spark and the woman’s vitality was fading fast. She was propped up on a couch, bolstered by plush pillows and draped in blood-red bed clothes that spilled to the floor and over the dais. She reached out a hand to him.

“I have one final task for you,” she rasped.

Kylo Ren, Master of the Knights of Ren, came to take her hand and knelt before her bed.

“This body has failed me, but I have found another,” Amanda Snoke told him. “It will not be long before I’m with you again.” She would have touched his cheek, but under his hood he wore the mask of Ren — the one who brought balance to the Old Republic by wielding the Dark and the Light. With those powers, through Ren, she would forge a new galaxy that was neither Empire nor Republic, one that was ruled instead by the Force and the Intelligentsia who wielded it. But first, she needed to shed the fragile body that had been too weak to contain her essence.

“How is this possible,” Ren asked softly, “when your clones have also failed?”

She gave him a weak smile and squeezed his hand. “Never before have I taken on the body of a Force-sensitive. That is what I now require to survive, to continue our mission.”

Inwardly, Ren gave a start. He didn’t like where this was going, but he remained still.

She sensed his apprehension but merely said, “I leave you the task of seeing to the transfer, for I trust no other. Once it is complete, we shall be together again.”

Kylo Ren nodded, gazing sadly upon the woman who had brought him comfort when he was a frightened child, support and understanding as a troubled teen, and love as a man. She’d brought him into the Cult of Ren and made him their leader. She’d been with him when no one else had, but now the Amanda he knew was leaving him. He understood now why she neither aged nor succumbed to sickness in all the time he’d known her, until her body finally and suddenly let go of all its vigor three days ago. Her skin had taken on a gray pallor and she was alarmingly thin, but still she smiled up at him.

An alien smile.

“Go,” she said in a firm but warm tone. “We’ve been preparing for this. Bring the scavenger girl from Jakku to me. She is the strongest I have found.”

Ren blinked behind the mask, remembering the girl. A slight chill went up his spine, but he did not know why.

“By the time you return,” she continued, “I’ll have no more use for this body.” She reached with her free hand to pick up a ruby-red holocron off a try beside her. “You will find me here, along with instructions. Only you can open it.”

“Bring the girl to me,” Supreme Leader Snoke said in no uncertain terms.

kylorenbwstarkiller

Ren straightened, resting his cold hands on his knees. “As you wish,” he answered, bowing his dripping head before the hologram.

@MyKyloRen    29 November 2016

Steal Your Heart Away

On board the Finalizer, Lieutenant Dolphed Mitaka approached the helmeted figure in black with great apprehension and doffed his cap. He swallowed hard.

“Sir, we were unable to acquire the droid on Jakku,” he managed to get out, his voice wavering only slightly. Kylo Ren stood with his back to him, monitoring a bank of consoles. When the dark lord half turned to reveal the menacing mask, the junior officer thought he might wet himself. “It escaped capture aboard a stolen Corellian YT model freighter.”

Ren digested this unwelcome news with a hidden sneer. “The droid…stole a freighter?”

Mitaka knew his words sounded lame, but he put on a brave face. “Not exactly, sir,” he went on without missing a beat. “It had help.”

Kylo Ren turned fully around to face him, giving the poor little man his complete attention.

“We have no confirmation, but we believe FN-2187 may have helped in the escape.”

Mitaka’s last words were drowned out by the roaring ignition of a lightsaber. He cringed as Darth Vader’s spawn began slashing the bank of consoles in a blind fury. The trail of scorched and melted destruction was not new to the lieutenant, and he knew there was nothing he could do but wait for the fiery tornado to die down. He closed his eyes and cringed as sparks rained down, dreading how he’d tell General Hux they’d need to put in a requisition for more consoles.

He breathed a little easier when he heard the blade extinguish.

Ren half-turned again, calm now, and asked casually, “Anything else?”

The junior officer’s heart began to pound again. “The two were accompanied by a girl,” he said after a deep breath.

Mitaka didn’t know what hit him, or rather what hoisted him off his feet and dragged him by the neck into Kylo Ren’s vice grip.

mitakaforcechoke3

“What girl?” Ren demanded through gritted teeth. The mention of a girl on Jakku stirred something deeply emotional within him, something deeply...protective. He didn’t quite understand the violent reaction himself, but he understood that the First Order had let not only the map slip through their fingers but also this…girl.

A girl who didn’t know her own power.

A girl to be feared and yet…loved.

He dropped Mitaka and stormed away from the still sizzling comm station. The little man, though gasping and shaking, would live to make his reports another day. Ren had more important things to think about. So important that he went straight to his quarters and into his inner sanctum. As the doors swished shut behind him, he took a seat in the darkened alcove before the melted helmet. He reached up, unlocked, and removed his own.

“The girl,” Ren said breathlessly. “Tell me, Grandfather, what you know. I feel her through the Force and I don’t know why.” The melted helmet said nothing. “Who is she?” the young dark lord demanded.

After a long moment, he buried his face in his hands and let his thoughts roam to the furthest recesses of his mind. There was something about a theft…long ago. He thought again about the current theft, hoping it would jog his memory. A freighter was stolen — a Corellian YT model — except it wasn’t a freighter. It was…a speeder bike. Ren lifted his head and stared, his eyes focusing within. He couldn’t remember the exact model, but it was black and sleek with red racing stripes.

He could barely hear it at first — a high-pitched little voice, defiant and boastful. He settled himself into a meditative position and closed his eyes in concentration.

“I can take whatever I want!” the voice insisted. It belonged to a little girl with brown hair knotted in three buns at the back of her head.

“I’m sure you can,” he heard himself — a younger, happier version of himself — say with a laugh, “but that doesn’t mean you should.”

She stared up at him, took in his folded-arm stance and began to cry. “I did it for you,” she told him between sniffles, stung by his rejection. “You always wanted a speeded bike.”

“Well, yeah, who doesn’t?” Padawan Ben Solo dropped to a crouch to look the five-year-old in the eye. “Hey, Rags,” he soothed, laying a hand on her shoulder, “I appreciate the thought, but I can’t pay for it.”

She wiped her face and sniffed. “It belongs to you! No one else can race it as good as you!”

He grinned, but his smile quickly faded. “Where did you get it and how did you get it here?” He glanced around, expecting the constable to swoop in on his own speeder. Everything had a tracking device these days, and it wouldn’t be long before the authorities located the stolen bike

She pointed a tiny finger at a dealer’s shop far in the distance. “I didn’t know how to drive it, so I lev-tated it.”

He stood, staring and gaping where she pointed. “You levitated it all the way from there?” The feat was unheard of at her age, even among the most adept Jedi padawans. He felt a tug on the hem of his tunic and looked down.

“Can we take it for a ride?” She beamed.

He gazed at the bright little face — the face that was so hard to say “no” to. He grinned.

“I said, it’s a damn good thing I had that door override installed.” General Hux crossed his arms and glared down at the dark lord deep in Sith meditation.

Kylo Ren slowly opened his eyes.

@MyKyloRen  27 October 2016

Light My Fire

“This isn’t the one I’m looking for.”

Kylo Ren deactivated the lightsaber and placed it back in the wooden box.

Bazine Netal stared up at the helmeted dark lord, folded her arms and gave a little huff. “It matches the description you gave me. The blade is even blue. Those crystals are hard to come by.” She had gone to a lot of trouble to obtain the weapon on the black market and she expected excellent payment. The young Chaaktil woman hadn’t risked life and limb to become one of the most feared bounty hunters only to be snubbed by a winnable Sith lord. “How do you know it isn’t the right one?” she challenged.

“I make it my business to know such things,” he sneered, his voice sounding extra haughty through the voice-changer.

He wasn’t about to share the mystery of Force-visions with this smartass mercenary. He’d held the blade for a long moment, concentrating on the visions that flashed through his mind – residue of previous owners, most often, but sometimes the Force revealed the future, so one could never be certain of a Jedi weapon’s history. But he’d seen none of the images he’d expected to see – only scenes of a few unknown skirmishes and then…blackness. The saber had seen little action and did not call to him as it surely would…if it were the right one.

He shut the lid on the box, signaling the end of the transaction and drew a datapad out of his robes. With a few taps, he completed the credit transfer into her account.

Bazine gave him a self-satisfied smirk and accessed her own pad. Her smile faded. “This is half the amount we agreed on,” she told him through clenched teeth. “That crystal’s worth at least three-fourths of the original price, but,” she cooed, stepping closer and catching the chin of his helmet between her thumb and forefinger, “I could be persuaded to take less in exchange for a peek under that mask.”

Ren stared down at the lithe figure in the black-and-white baffleweave dress – a pattern which jammed sensors – and the tight-fitting black cowl. If she had hair underneath, it was cropped short, but he’d heard rumors she wore the hood to hid burns inflicted by a flamethrower in her youth.

“What do you think you’ll see if I do?” He always liked asking this question of the curious.

Bazine shrugged, lowering her eyelids under heavily painted black brows, featuring a distinct black stripe that ran down either side of her nose. “Someone surprisingly handsome and a little…damaged.”

“You would be disappointed,” he returned flatly, lifting his chin out of her grasp.

She clucked her tongue and ran her hands up the fabric of his surcoat and under his cowl. “Fine. Keep the helmet on. How about a peek under the robes? I can feel some fine pecs under there.”

Ren said nothing. He gathered up her hands and let them drop to her sides. “You’ll get the rest when you bring me the right saber.” He took the box under his arm and exited her quarters, trailed by two of his Knights and a sweep of black robes.

The bounty hunter pursed her lips distinctly stained the color of dried blood. “Well, you’re no fun.”

Ren paid her no more heed than a bramble fly.

Back inside the hotel suite, he left his men in the luxurious lounge area and headed for the quiet of his own quarters. Alone in the dim chamber, he tore off the confining helmet and stood for a moment, breathing in the fresh air before dropping the helmet on the bed and settling into the chair beside the window. One hundred and four stories up, the room offered an exquisite view of the double moon rise, but the young man focused instead on the box across his knees – the acquisition that bought him halfway across the galaxy.

It was a bitter disappointment.

He closed his eyes, remembering a day in his final teen years when he peered into a similar wooden box with his uncle. They’d spent five years traversing the galaxy on a massive treasure hunt, gathering up every artifact they could that had survived the mass extermination of the Jedi. In many places they visited, Luke Skywalker was heralded as the hero of the galaxy, the Jedi master who killed Darth Vader and brought down the great Empire. But to young Ben Solo, he was the uncle who hid the truth from him, the uncle who had killed his grandfather – Ben’s mother’s father.

Padawan Ben Solo had never let on that he knew his grandfather’s identity and concentrated instead on learning all he could about the Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi knight who died in the Clone Wars the same year Darth Vader’s name appeared in galactic databases everywhere. With confirmation from disparate sources, Ben had connected the dots twelve years before the public did, twelve years before his mother was forced to send a private subspace message telling him why she never told him, telling him how sorry she was.

But she’d wasted her time. He already knew about the power of

Darth Vader, the power of the Chosen One. But the Chosen One had failed when he forgot about the power of the Light. The Force required balance, an equal knowledge of both sides. And so Kylo Ren, Leader of the Knights of Ren – formerly known as the Order of Revan – sought the lost lightsaber of the most powerful Jedi knight of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Bazine Netal had reported an ex-stormtrooper claimed to have recovered the blade from Vader’s personal effects before the second Death Star was destroyed. The weapon now in the box on his knees had been in Vader’s possession – Ren could feel that much through the Force – but it had not been Kenobi’s.

He put the box on a low table alongside five others and picked up the case in the middle. Reverently, he opened it, drew out the saber within, and thumbed the switch. The blue blade hummed to life and with an eerie glow, lit the face of its new master – the grandson of its original master and creator.

 

@MyKyloRen   12 October 2016

I Want to Be Free of This Pain

Kylo Ren lifted his helmeted head, searching, seeking like a predator sniffing out its prey. He was here.  Han Solo. Ren knew that much from the ship that had crashed into the snowy surface of Starkiller Base – another example of his father’s brazen attempt to play the hero. His father – his own flesh and blood – come to destroy him, and the smuggler wasn’t alone. Ren had felt the Wookiee’s presence when he’d boarded the Millennium Falcon. The ship had been empty but alive with bright memory – a weapon more powerful than any thermal detonator.

Through the Force, Ren sensed those detonators now, mounted on various pillars and support struts, and he sensed the saboteurs who had set them in place. He half-turned to the stormtroopers who flanked him. “Find them.”

As the squadron moved off, Ren headed down to ground level and glided out onto the catwalk that spanned the oscillator shaft. If he could lure Han Solo out over the expanse, Ren’s job would be an easy one. There were no guardrails. The old man might simply stumble and tumble and that would be the end of it, or exposed in the open with nowhere to run, the troopers would take him out. But one thing was certain: Han Solo could not leave the base alive. He was a wanted criminal, guilty of not only crimes against the First Order but against the Galactic Empire before that.

Ren was nearly halfway across the chasm, striding purposefully, when a shout brought him up short.

“Ben!”

The boyhood name echoed across the vast empty space as true as any blaster bolt. Ren had readied himself for blaster fire. He could sense his father’s fear even at that distance and would not have put it past the old man to shoot him in the back. The Resistance had chosen well in appointing Solo as their operative, their assassin. He was an expert marksman and had the potential of worming his way under his son’s defenses by unleashing a barrage of foolish sentiment – or so they hoped.

Firing the name was a cheap shot and Ren was amazed at how badly it had stunned him. He could have easily deflected a bolt but not the name he had buried back on Hosnian Prime years ago. A name he never wanted to hear again. Sentiment, he told himself sternly. Nothing more. He balled his fists and turned to face the intruder.

“Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

Ren could feel his father’s heart begin to pound as the older man stepped onto the catwalk and took a few brave steps forward. Several levels above, a trooper took aim at the smuggler’s back. All Ren needed to do was give the order. But then something unexpected happened. On the highest level, a door slid open and two figures rushed in to stand and watch at the railing. One of them was the girl – a tempting but unwanted distraction. Outside, the last of the sun’s energy was slowly being drained away. Another distraction. With a word and a gesture, he could have the saboteurs killed – the Wookiee too, who was also watching above.

“Take off that mask,” Han Solo demanded, suddenly finding his old swagger.  “You don’t need it.”

Ren nearly laughed. Did the man actually think he could command him – the Co-commander of the First Order – by using his dad voice? The voice that had scolded him when he put chewing gum in Chewbacca’s fur as a boy?

“What do you think you’ll see if I do?” Ren challenged, using the voice changer in his helmet to full effect.

Han Solo’s stern expression didn’t change, but Ren could sense a great weariness in him. “The face of my son.

Ren hesitated for a moment then thought haughtily, Let him see whom I’ve become. Let him see whom he stands before. He reached up, unlocked his helmet, and removed it. He watched the expression on Han Solo’s face change to one of dismay. Ben wanted to say, “That’s right, Dad. You haven’t seen me in ten years – never once bothered! I’m not a boy anymore!” But instead he snarled, “Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish like his father, so I destroyed him!”

Han started walking again, advancing slowly. “That’s what Snoke wants you to believe, but it’s not true. My son is alive,” he implored, coming to a halt a few paces away from the child he once knew.

Ren gave a slight shake of his head. “No,” he returned flatly. “The Supreme Leader is wise.”

“Snoke’s using you for your power,” Han countered gently, moving closer. “When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you.”

Ren took a step back as the smuggler got within arm’s reach but stood his ground. He wanted to scream, “How would you know, Dad? How the fuck would you know? You weren’t there! You were never there! You could never see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel!”

Han stopped. “You know it’s true,” he said softly.

Ben did know . Snoke had already betrayed him once, he was sure of it, even if he couldn’t remember how. Ben was certain Snoke had altered his memories. But there was no way Ren – who had once been Ben – could ever go home. He’d face certain execution. His parents, influential as they were, could never prevent the grandson of Darth Vader from answering for his crimes and the crimes of the First Order.

“It’s too late.” The answer was barely louder than a whisper.

“No, it’s not,” Han urged. “Leave here with me. Come home.” After a beat, he added. “We miss you.”

He met his father’s gaze, but in the next few seconds, hundreds of images filled his head. He was a boy stung by fire wasps. He had survived the poison but without comfort from his absent parents in the care of C-3PO. Han had arrived as the medi-droid was lancing open the wounds and extracting the egg pods the insects had injected. Ben couldn’t scream loud enough, and Han had merely looked around anxiously and told him to “keep it down, kid,” when concerned neighbors pounded on the door.

When he was a little older, Ben had taken to playing in a band. The music was pensive and full of ambience. Han had come to a performance but to Han, music was for parties – loud, upbeat, and catchy. Ben looked up from his instrument to see his father blatantly yawning.

When Ben shared scraps of poetry he’d written as a teenager, Han had handed them back, saying, “I’m sure this is good stuff, kid, but I was never one for fancy words. Your mother is though. Go show it to Senator Mom.”

Han had never known what to do with his highly sensitive son, the boy who could be found out on the balcony or lurking in the shadows at galas – anywhere where he could be alone – the boy who rarely smiled.

Ben saw the sadness and regret in his father’s face and felt his own eyes begin to tear. Unmasked, he found it nearly impossible to block the emotions of others. They always overwhelmed him. “I am being torn apart,” he blurted. “I want to be free of this pain!” His stomach lurched and he nearly vomited. He remembered the Supreme Leader’s directive. “And I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” His lower lip trembled. “Will you help me?”

Han took a step closer, his eyes fixed on his son’s. “Yes, anything.”

Ben watched the helmet tumble from his grasp. It hit the catwalk grate with a harsh clang. When he looked back at his father, a new resolve shown in the dark warrior’s eyes as he unclipped the lightsaber from his belt and held it out in offering.

Han looked confused, even frightened for a moment, then understood that Ben was asking to be disarmed. The older man gripped the blade’s pommel, prepared to clip the iconic weapon to his own belt and take his son home.

In the heavens above, the last of the sun’s energy was swallowed up by Starkiller Base. The star winked out. Ben met his father’s gaze for the last time, his eyes dark now in the red glow from the dim interior lights.

“You have compassion for him – the father who couldn’t protect you from bounty hunters,” Snoke’s voice growled with contempt Kylo Ren’s head. “The father who took you away from the only friends you ever had. The father who never told you Darth Vader was your grandfather!”

Ren’s hands tightened on the blade’s hilt as Han Solo’s fingers did too.

Suddenly, the blade ignited in a brilliant flame and pierced the old smuggler’s chest. Far above, Chewie howled and Rey shrieked. Ren shoved the saber through the resisting flesh, still meeting Solo’s shocked stare.

“Thank you,” Ren managed to get out through gritted teeth.

“Yes. Good,” Snoke praised his pupil through their special psychic bond.

With a final yank, Ren freed the saber from the body and watched dispassionately as the father reached out and touched his son’s face before tumbling into the chasm below.

Ben’s eyes went wide as across the expanse of space he felt his

mother reel as if she too had been stabbed. Instead of feeling buoyed by the power of the Dark Side, Ben was filled with a memory of his father lying on the bed, grinning up at him as he tossed the little boy into the air, making his son feel like he could fly.

 

@MyKyloRen  6 October 2016

Thorn in My Side

Ten meters from the ramp of his command shuttle, Kylo Ren paused as the black smoke curled up from the ruins of Maz Kanata’s castle and the last desperate skirmishes played out. He turned his black-hooded head slowly, his heightened senses honing in on a presence. He was here, of course – Han Solo – with the droid and the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca…and the…traitor. The First Order had received the transmission from Bazine Netal as to their whereabouts. The Resistance fighters were alive and warranted capture, interrogation, and execution as war criminals, but Kylo Ren cared nothing about galactic politics. The Force – and all its power – was so far beyond the comprehension and puny lives of most beings. Let them wage their pointless wars. The strong would survive.

kylocarriesreyshuttle

 

He dismissed Han Solo without further thought and strode up the ramp with the girl in his arms. He gave the orders for his second-in-command to take the helm, and as the bat-like craft took to the skies and spread its wings, he laid the girl’s limp body in an empty seat and strapped her in. But instead of taking the co-pilot’s chair, he lingered there looking down on her tender young face, his gloved hand resting on her wrist. She was lovely, yes, and behind the closed eyes he’d glimpsed a rare intelligence and fortitude, but those desirable traits weren’t what had drawn his attention. She’d seen the map, there was no doubt of that, and he was certain he could extract its contents, but he’d seen something else in the dark recesses of her unconscious – memories of a man he’d slain in a fit of rage just days before.

Lor San Tekka.

“How do you know him?” he asked the sleeping girl, the words barely loud enough to get picked up by the microsensors in his helmet.

What Ren had seen was a curious string of images from the viewpoint of a small child perhaps, judging from the angle of perspective. And he’d heard that child’s voice – a girl, frightened and desperate. San Tekka, a renowned explorer and Church of the Force leader, was perhaps a decade or more younger in the memory, his hair just starting to go grey, his face less sun-worn and lined.

Ren gripped the arm of the chair as the shuttle lurched.

“Best strap in, sir,” the pilot called back to him. “There are a few stragglers out there taking pot-shots at us.”

Ren ignored him and crouched beside the girl’s seat in complete fascination. Slowly, he reached a hand out to her face, probing gently with the Force, sifting through the layers of her unconscious until he found what he was looking for. Yes, the map was there, well-formed and intact, for she had a photographic memory, but he brushed the image aside. There were far more interesting things to dredge up. Ren closed his own eyes as an image unraveled and played like a flickering old holovid.

“I’ve tried to get a message through to Skywalker,” San Tekka informed two women who wore the insignia of the Church on their simple robes. “He’s out of communication range again and no one knows  when he’ll be back. It seems his search has taken him deeper into the Outer Rim.”

“What’ll we do now?” the older of the two women said in a weary undertone. “We need guidance. And you need to follow that lead.”

San Tekka nodded. “We cannot let that artifact fall into the wrong hands.”

“We’ve never encountered a Force-sensitive like her before. Is there no one else who can help?”

“She’s already destroyed the programming of three droids,” the younger woman put in. “You should see what the power of her mind did to their circuitry. If she turns that power on the other children…or us….” She winced as her voice trailed off, leaving the unpleasant thought unspoken.

San Tekka was quick to hold up a hand. “She’s shown no ill-will towards the other children,” he reassured them. “She is defiant and strong-willed,” he allowed, “but Skywalker assured us the mind rub would erase the memories of her Dark side origins. It has done that. I sense no bitterness in her – only the normal frustrations of a young child.”

“A child with devastating powers,” the first woman corrected. “That mind rub was performed by a padawan learner – a boy who wasn’t up to the task perhaps. We need Skywalker to touch her mind again and remove all understanding of the Force in her.”

San Tekka sighed. “That would be best for all concerned, but I must leave on the morrow to meet with this dealer on Dantooine.” He rose and made to push aside the beaded curtain that separated the two rooms of the hovel.

“Lor,” the older woman said in a low voice. “The girl will not forget how to access the Force when she has us to remind her – all our daily meditation rituals. We will not stop them for her sake.”

“Nor would I ask you to,” San Tekka answered, turning, one hand curled around a strand of beads.

The woman eyed him intently. “When you return, the girl may no longer be here.”

San Tekka returned her gaze, unblinking. “We swore an oath to protect her.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt the droids,” a high-pitched voice whimpered from out of the shadows. The next sentence was choked with sobs. “I won’t do it again.”

“Sir.”

Kylo Ren was vaguely aware of another voice behind him. A stormtrooper. The dark lord backed himself out of the girl’s head faster than he’d wanted.

“Sir, I can take the prisoner to the interrogation room, if you wish.”

Ren stood up slowly. “I’ll take her myself.”

 

@MyKyloRen     20 September 2016

The Way We Were

“Look, Ben,” Luke Skywalker sighed, “I understand how you feel, but this is how it’s got to be.” When the sullen teenage padawan looked away, the Jedi master went on, choosing his words with care. “She’ll feel no pain, I promise, and she won’t have any knowledge that her memories have been altered. If we leave the memory of her parents intact, she’ll find the dark path they started her down.”

Ben Solo wrapped his long arms around his equally long legs and rested his chin on his knees. Luke watched his nephew for a moment. The boy had sprawled one step below him on the stairs of the academy, leaning back on his elbows while they talked of the coming trip to Jakku and some amusements they might show Rey along the way. He knew Ben was dreading the separation from his little friend – the bright, seemingly normal, six-year-old who followed him everywhere – but he seemed to have finally shaken off the attachment and accepted the alternative future the Force had in store for her. That is, until Luke had mentioned that it was time for her to undergo a memory rub. The padawan had physically and emotionally drawn into himself again.

“Even if that didn’t happen,” Luke tried gently, “she’s been traumatized by witnessing the death of her parents. Instead of simply erasing that memory, I want to give her a brighter one.”

Ben lifted his chin. “But she still won’t understand why we’re leaving her there.” He gave his uncle a sideways glare. “You haven’t told her that yet.”

Luke shook his head and looked out across the busy square. “It’ll require another memory rub when we part ways with her. She,” he hesitated, “won’t remember us. She’ll think she’s the descendants of Rebel fighters who were stranded after the Battle of Jakku. I want to work Lor San Tekka into her family memory some way, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.” When Ben turned away again, Luke sought to reassure him. “Look, I know this Force technique works. I used it successfully on Brenger Par – the boy who survived the terrorist attack on the capital last season. He hasn’t had any nightmares since.”

“Neither has Padawan Devlan,” Ben muttered, his chin settled again on his elbows.

“Yes, that’s wonderful,” Luke exclaimed. “I’ve noticed the change in him. He’s turned a corner.”

“Because of me.”

“What?”

Ben turned to gaze up at his master, a gleam of defiance in his eyes. “I pulled the memory of the fire out of his mind.”

Luke stared, dumbfounded. “You did what?” It wasn’t a question but a panicked request for confirmation. “How did you do this, Ben?” Luke laid a hand on his nephew’s shoulder.

Han Solo’s son shrugged him off. “I learned the way you did. From the Sith Book of Alteration.”

“What?” Luke got to his feet and came around to face his padawan. “That text was sealed! How did you….”

“It obviously wasn’t sealed very well,” Ben countered, rising to stand, arms folded, looking down on his uncle from the step above.

Luke gaped up at the insolent teenager. “Why would you attempt such a dangerous procedure without any guidance?” His jaw dropped again. “You could have seriously harmed or killed Devlan.”

Ben stared down his long nose. “But I didn’t and I could give the same peace to Rey.”

Luke suppressed an explosive laugh. “No, Ben. That’s totally out of the question.”

“So, it’s ok for you to have the power, but not me?” Ben shot back.

The Jedi master lifted his gaze to the cloudless sky before fixing it again on his padawan. “I didn’t say that, Ben. But you’re not ready for this kind of knowledge. There’s a lot I need to teach you about power. A lot more you need to….” His voice trailed off as the comm device in his pocket signaled an incoming message. He fished it out of his robes, activated the display, and pressed the decryption button. “It’s your mother,” he groaned. “Her ship is down with a malfunctioning hyperdrive. The delegation can’t send another for three weeks. I’m going to have to pick her up.” He shoved the device back into his robes with a sigh. “One can’t deny family.”

#   #   #

Kylo Ren stared down at the lifeless form of Lor San Tekka. He tried to blink back the memory of when he last saw the man – a leader in the Church of the Force – but the images came on strong, unbidden.

San Tekka had hovered in the doorway of the hovel he called home, watching with fatherly concern as Ben Solo crouched before little Rey.

The girl looked stunned as the young Jedi held his hand near her face. While he concentrated on altering her memories, behind him, unbeknownst to him, Dr. Amanda Snoke spoke directly into the girl’s mind.

“Rey, I want you to search the ruins and caves of this place for me. I want you to look for a large and powerful red crystal. If you find it and bring it to me, you shall be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.” She stepped back, certain the girl had understood her directive, as Ben broke his trance.

He had planted a vague impression of a family in Rey’s head, but he did not trust San Tekka. Ben had not done as Luke, his master and uncle, had bidden. He’d left Rey’s memories of himself intact but locked up in a dream state – water-colored and scattered.

Kylo Ren gazed past the frightened villagers into the darkness beyond, wondering why he saw himself crouching before the little girl in his mind.

 

@MyKyloRen     8 September 2016

Ambush in the Forest

Kylo Ren awoke from a drugged sleep in his chamber on Starkiller Base and dragged himself into the refresher. He stared at the reflection in the mirror. The long face was drawn and pale, and beneath his sleep clothes, his sinewy form had melted away. His breathing was still a bit wheezy, but the coughing fits were over. He was starving, and he took that to be a good sign. The virus had struck a month ago and wiped out half the First Order forces within a week. Ren and Hux had been quarantined immediately once the infection had spread through the Ninth Division from the fool who had brought it back with him from shore leave. At least the idiot’s dead, Ren though bitterly, and I don’t have to Force-choke him.

All their biological protocols had failed to contain the disease, and many officers – those who were alive – speculated that the trooper had been a purposely infected and sent to deliver the superbug to the First Order ranks. Ren had to admit it was a brilliant move – warfare without bloodshed or property destruction, a maneuver that crippled the enemy as effectively as any Death Star.

He was not looking forward to the day’s status report. Hux was still in a coma, that much Ren knew, and he himself had only survived the epidemic due to his ability to tap into the Force. He’d still required drugs to prevent his lungs from completely filling with fluid, and that bothered him. He hadn’t felt this weak since was at the academy. He’d been sick then, but not due to an infection. The memory was fuzzy, illusive, but bits and pieces of it came back now as he stared at the gaunt figure in the mirror.

He’d been fifteen and home in his own bed in a severely weakened state. He remembered medi-droids poking at him, reading his vital signs, and injecting fluids, but he didn’t remember his mother leaning over him. Where had she been? On one of her missions, fulfilling senatorial obligations, he supposed. He recalled waking once at the touch of his father’s hand on his cheek, but when he was finally able to get out of bed, Han Solo wasn’t there. Ren knew he’d been close to death then. Why hadn’t his parents been there to rejoice in his recovery?

There was one who had been there. He could see her face now – the blonde woman who haunted his dreams, the one who was responsible for stealing his memories. He was sure of it. Before he got up on that bleak night long ago, she’d laid a cool hand on his forehead and spoken softly to him, read him legends and tales from the Old Republic days and spoon-fed him when he was too weak to keep his eyes open. And when he was finally strong enough, she’d brought him out on the open patio overlooking the city lights. The air was cool for that time of year and she’d propped him up on the lounge chair, tucking the blankets around him. She heaved a sigh as she settled into a chair next to him.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to hear this story.”

At first he hadn’t known what she meant, his head still reeling from the strange sickness.

“Your uncle has been out of contact – something about terrible ion storms disrupting communications, but I managed to get a few messages through to let him know you were fine,” she went on, then reached out and patted his knee. “He’s doing ok too, but he’s been worried about you….So, can you tell me now what happened?”

Ben Solo had frowned in concentration, straining to make sense of the images that flitted through his addled mind. He and his uncle had been in some sort of skirmish that had ended in a huge flash of red. When he closed his eyes, sometimes that was all he could see.

“There was a tree,” he began slowly, “in a forest. Uncle Luke and I had been

investigating an old Jedi legend when we suddenly sensed a great disturbance in the Force.” He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, remembering. “We both ignited our lightsabers and put our backs together, turning to face the threat. They came out of nowhere – a man and a woman. We didn’t sense them until they were upon us.”

“Who were they?”

Ben shook his head, wincing a little. “I’m not sure, but they…they were…strong with the Dark side of the Force.” He let these last words out in a whisper. “I barely got in a few blows and was fending off the woman, but there was a little girl with her. She stepped out from behind the tree and distracted me.” He shook his head to clear it. “She planted something in my head – a thought or image – I can’t remember now, but the next thing I knew, I was flung against a tree on the edge of the clearing….Then I woke up here.” He looked up sharply. “Has my uncle said anything…about whether or not he…killed them?”

Amanda Snoke took his cold hand in hers. “All he said was, ‘Tell Ben everything’s ok’ and you needn’t worry about being attacked again. That’s all I know, sweetie.”

Kylo Ren turned away from the mirror, breathing hard as the word echoed in his head.

Sweetie.

His jaw clenched and his fingers curled into fists…but he didn’t know why.

 

@MyKyloRen   30 August 2016

Darkside Spawn

“Sir, the droid was spotted heading west with a girl.”

Kylo Ren whipped around and marched towards the forest. Under the dark leafy canopy, he paused for a moment. It had been a long time since he’d been among trees, and he found himself longing to strip of his helmet so he could smell the green, hear the rustle, feel the cool upon his skin. But now was not the time for foolish indulgence. He had a job to do. Yet, the last time he was in a forest, it was because of…a girl.

The Little One.

His fifteen-year-old self had taken her hand and led her into the cottage perched on a wooded slope overlooking a clearing. Inside the Jedi retreat, he’d taken her to a play area for younglings and settled her amongst an array of toys and entertaining holo games.

“No levitation,” Ben Solo told the five-year-old, holding up a finger, “without supervision.”

He made sure she gave him her promise before joining his uncle and the other occupant of the house in the great room.

“Well, here we are,” Dr. Amanda Snoke said, flashing them a bright smile as she set a tray of drinks and small refreshments on a low table before them. “Now that she’s comfortable, tell me how I can help you with this little one.”

Luke Skywalker absently reached for a glass and let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t know how much Ben has told you about Rey, but we need to find a secure home for her.”

“You do not wish to train this Force-sensitive? As I understand it, she’s advanced for her age and has some remarkable abilities.” She took a bite of the honeyed seedcake and chewed thoughtfully, watching the Jedi master’s expression with great interest.

“She can already levitate objects five times her weight and she’s Force-shoved me flat on my ass,” Ben enthusiastically put in after a swallow of tart berry juice.

The woman gave him a good-natured smirk. “Really? What’s become of her parents?” She turned back to Luke.

“Dead,” Ben blurted before his uncle could get a more guarded word in edgewise.

Luke sighed again, giving his padawan a stern look. “Thank you, Ben. I’ll take it from here.” It was a moment before he went on. “Yes, they were both killed in a skirmish, and we….”

“By you?” Dr. Snoke guessed.

Luke looked up sharply. His eyes flicked briefly to his nephew.

“I didn’t say anything, I swear,” the teen protested.

Skywalker’s eyes narrowed at the woman. “What have you heard?”

She raised an eyebrow and met his gaze. “Nothing, but since you don’t want the girl to reside or train at the academy, I assume she comes from undesirable circumstances.” She shrugged. “Perhaps her parents are criminals – members of an organized crime syndicate or enemies of the New Republic? So, the Jedi took them out?”

Luke set down his mug. “I’m not sure I care for your directness, but yes, it was under such circumstances that she lost her parents.”

Ben could hardly contain himself. “They were….”

The Jedi master held up a black robotic hand. The gesture swiftly silenced his padawan. “They were Sith,” he revealed in an undertone.

Almost as one, the three turned to look in the direction of the playroom.

“She’s not listening,” Ben quietly assured them. “She’s playing dejarik. I can feel her thoughts through the Force.”

“But surely with the death of Palpatine – Darth Sidious – the Sith are no more,” Amanda Snoke ventured.

Skywalker kept his voice low. “As long as Sith knowledge exists, there will always be Sith lords. Her father was one and her mother was his apprentice. We’re on a mission to track down and destroy any remaining Sith holocrons.”

The woman gave a small gasp. “Then this little one was truly born of the Dark side.”

Luke reached for a decanter and poured himself something a little stronger. “You understand our dilemma.”

“But why come to me?” Dr. Snoke held out her hands. “I counsel at-risk and abused children. Surely as a Jedi, you’re better equipped to counsel her and see to her special needs.”

“You were able to help Ben when nobody else could.” He gave his nephew a sad smile. “It was his idea to come to you. He’s established a special bond with Rey and has been able to comfort and control her, but we don’t know for how long. She’s growing so fast.”

Ben looked at Amanda hopefully. “You said you had friends in a remote corner of the galaxy who take in orphans with special abilities.”

“Yes, that’s true. She’d be quite safe there – safe from herself and her past.” She hesitated. “But are you sure that’s what you want? You’d have to wipe her memories.”

“No!” Ben looked horrified.

Luke shot him a fierce look then quickly turned back to Dr. Snoke. “Yes.” The look on his face was frozen with determination…and something else.

Fear.

Just as the girl’s was now….The girl he’d heard so much about.KyloParalyzesRey

“Sir, Resistance fighters,” said one of the stormtroopers who’d located the Co-Commander in the forest. “We need more troops.”

Ren turned away from his victim. “Pull the division out. Forget the droid. We have what we need.”

 

@MyKyloRen    15 August 2016

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